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Electric Picnic organisers and nightlife group call for reopening plans for sector

Laois County Council decided not to grant a licence for the festival yesterday.

Image: Shutterstock/Anna Om

Updated Aug 5th 2021, 2:15 PM

ELECTRIC PICNIC ORGANISERS have called on the government to “immediately issue reopening guidelines” for the live music sector.  

Nightlife group Give Us the Night has also written a letter to members of the government calling for a guarantee to the reopening of the night-time industry.  

In a statement, the Electric Picnic organising team said it was “extremely disappointed” after the event was yesterday refused a licence by Laois County Council. 

The organisers are reviewing the available options and will be in contact directly with ticket holders over the next week, the statement said. 

“We now call upon all members of government to interrupt their summer recess and immediately issue reopening guidelines, as we have being calling for, with a reopening date for the sector of the 16th August on a phased basis, building to the implementation of no restrictions from 1st September 2021 onwards,” it added.

Caroline Desmond of music promoter MCD, which is involved in Electric Picnic, said events attended by 100,000 people are taking place in the UK and the US.

“In Ireland we are still socially distancing with 500 people in a field, with no roadmap or anything.

“So, I think what’s happened with EP is: everything that we have been asked to do, we have all done. And it’s still not enough,” Desmond told the News at One on RTÉ.

Our sector just seems to be totally irrelevant in the picture at the moment. We have been the longest closed, and we have no idea what’s happening.

Musician Niall Breslin said Electric Picnic being refused a licence was particularly keenly felt in the live entertainement sector.  

“I’m really close to a lot of people in the industry, and people I would work with in events teams and sound engineers and roadies and crew, yesterday had a particular kick,” Breslin said.

“It really hit them because there was huge hope that, even if we get a few weeks in the summer, wouldn’t that be worth it. Wouldn’t it be great to see each other again,” he added.

The founder of Give us the Night, Sunil Sharpe, yesterday wrote a letter to the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Culture Catherine Martin calling for a guarantee to the reopening of Ireland’s nightlife. 

The group, which represents venues and workers in the Irish night-time sector, has accused the government of not having concrete plans in place for the return of events and venues.

The letter called for a number of changes including a guarantee of non-socially distanced trial events in September, a lift on the ban on dancing at live events and on live/loud music, and the reopening of live events including music venues and nightclubs no later than the beginning of October. 

It also called for later closing hours instead of the current 11.30pm cutoff  and government-funded training for event and venue staff to handle enforcing Covid-19 regulations.

The letter criticised the government’s response to reopening the sector as “inadequate, inflexible and lacking a basic understanding of how the industry works”.

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“Our industry is facing existential difficulties that must be met by a range of Government interventions and emergency help,” Sharpe wrote in the letter. 

“The coming months, and in particular the last quarter of the year, is a crucial period in the calendar for venues and even organisers, and it is now vital that the Government allows us to plan for this period.” 

On tour

Meanwhile, the UK government announced that its musicians and performers will be able to tour in a number of European countries including Ireland without the need for a visa or work permit.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) said it has negotiated with 19 EU Member State countries to allow British musicians and performers to conduct short tours visa-free.

These countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden.

It comes after months of campaigning from musicians such as Elton John and Ed Sheeran on the issue of post-Brexit touring, with John previously warning the rules threatened “a generation of talent”. 

Additional reporting by Press Association.  

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